“In a situation where many adults may have panicked, Christian was calm and knew what to do,” Liberty Middle School Principal Keisa Vincent said of Christian Swope.
A 12-year-old Georgia boy has been hailed as a hero for saving the life of a friend who started choking at school. Vincent Swope was eating lunch on Wednesday when he noticed his friend was not breathing, according to a Newton County Schools news release. Swope, 12, jumped into action and began performing the Heimlich manoeuvre on his friend after the food detached from his throat, the statement said.
It was a life-saving technique Swope told the school he learned thanks to his aunt Mercy Aguilar. “My aunt is a nurse and taught us CPR and Heimlich, so I wasn’t scared because I knew what to do,” Swope said in the statement.
“When I got home, my aunt called me a hero. And I was so proud of myself,” Swope, who is now 12 years old.
According to Aguilar, she taught Swope a variety of life-saving techniques last year, but never expected him to use them. “I have a skeleton that I bought last year for nursing school and that I teach my boys various safety moves,” she said in a statement.
“I was ecstatic and shocked when I heard about it. When you’re called every day at school, you don’t expect it to be good news. I was speechless and so proud when they told me what he was doing.”
She taught them safety moves, but in her wildest dreams she never thought they would use them.
“He saved a life, she continued. He got it and was so effective at using it. I’m so proud of him for that.”
After the incident, Superintendent of the Newton County School System Samantha Fuhrey met Swope to thank him for his heroic actions and presented her Superintendent Medal of Distinction. The award is given to “selfless people who go beyond the goal of doing the right thing and demonstrating their commitment to others through their actions and words,” she said in a statement. Since then, she has lent the coin a few times, including to a class at South Salem Elementary School after rescuing her teacher from a medical emergency in the school yard. She also presented the award to a Henry County School student who comforted a high school baseball player during the game after his father died of a medical emergency at a previous game.
On Thursday morning, Swope joined an elite list of recipients. In a short ceremony at Liberty Middle School, the superintendent handed over the coin to Principal Keisa Vincent. Fuhrey presented a coin also to the American civil rights legend Dr. Frederick Douglas Reese, a member of the Selma Courageous Eight. The exciting moment was captured in a video shared by Newton County Schools on YouTube.
Few people get the Superintendent’s Medal of Honor, but when you get it, you’re a hero, Fuhrey said in the clip. If you save someone’s life, it’s worth it.
“He is a remarkable young man,” Fuhrey added in a statement. “I’m so proud of him and everyone who was there are also proud.”
I hope that Christians will remind him how extraordinary he is. I reserve the right to award the coin to the best of the best, and it meets all the criteria.
In a statement released by the school, Vincent echoed Fuhrey’s sentiment. “Christian stepped in and took control of the situation and saved his life,” Vincent said. “In such a situation many adults would have panicked, but Christian was calm and knew what to do.”
“Knowing how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre as a 12-year-old is amazing,” Vincent added. “He’s a hero in my book.”